Joe Gibbs Racing’s hot shoe Kyle Busch likes Phoenix, and he now has six Nationwide victories at the one-mile oval.
The No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch dominated the ServiceMaster 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, leading 168 of the 200 laps that made up the race en route to his 12th series win of the season and the sixth of his career at PIR. Also winning a Phoenix earlier in the year, Busch's win on Saturday gave him a season sweep of Nationwide racing at the track.
"Just can't say enough about (crew chief) Adam Stevens and all the guys at JGR," Busch said. "All in all, a great race today -- a really fast car."
The No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet of Justin Allgaier finished second after passing the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Austin Dillon on the final lap. Dillon wound up third.
"Can't get too upset," Dillon said. "I think he (Allgaier) got into me; he said he didn't"
With the lead, Dillon increased his championship points lead, just slightly, over the No. 12 Penske Racing Ford of Sam Hornish Jr. Hornish finished fifth after pit strategy put him near the front. When the yellow flag waved on lap 130, the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Trevor Bayne and Hornish stayed out on the track while everyone else headed down pit road. After previously running at the end of the lead lap, Hornish restarted second and ran in the top-six for the remainder of the race. The No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Regan Smith finished just ahead of him in fourth.
"It was tough. We were up and down all day today," Hornish said. "While it's not going to victory lane, it was like a victory."
After a caution on the first lap of the race, the event ran green until the second caution on lap 105. During the long green-flag run, Busch led all but a couple of laps during a cycle of green-flag pit stops just past lap 75. For most of that run, the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski and the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick ran second and third to Busch while Dillon was a mainstay as the highest-running Nationwide Series regular in fourth and sometimes fifth, also behind the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Matt Kenseth.
The yellow flag waved often in the second half of the race, bringing the total number of cautions to seven. The fifth caution of the race on lap 142 involved Keselowski. He spun and hit the wall after receiving contact from the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Brian Scott. After extensive repairs to his car, Keselowski wound up finishing 19th. His No. 22 team remained in first in regards to the owner's points standings, but Busch's No. 54 team closed the gap to four points for next Saturday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"All in all, that's what this sport is all about," Busch said of Keselowski's troubles. "We had bad luck last week."
Busch lost the lead during the lap 130 caution when Bayne and Hornish stayed out. When the race returned to green, Allgaier moved into the lead and maintained the position until Busch reclaimed it for good with 47 laps to go.